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Mandatory vaccination expected to be an employment norm


The industry would need to deal with many layers before it materialises

Vaccination for seafarers requires substantial collective efforts to ensure crew receive their jabs, and able to produce authentic evidence as an added assurance for border entries.

Vaccination as a new norm
Every seafarer is encouraged to be inoculated to keep their jobs. This is what the global seafarer industry is driving at for public health reasons. Calling it a “sensible way forward”, John Wilson from Liverpool Seafarers Centre said: “If you have been vaccinated, the likelihood of serious illness or death is limited. It is not eroded completely, but the chances of you dying or having to be hospitalised are reduced greatly.

“The underlying message at the moment is that if you are not vaccinated, you will not be employed, but they have not made it mandatory. However I believe it is going to become so from a continuation of employment perspective,” Wilson advocated. He petitioned for the shipping industry to mandate vaccination for seafarers. Currently, all shipping companies and manning agencies offer vaccination on a voluntary basis.

An estimated 25 per cent of the world’s 1.4 million crew were vaccinated, with some 30 per cent remained reluctant. Extending vaccinations would not guarantee opened borders across countries, only minimising the risks against falling very ill when emergency medical assistance is either limited or inaccessible.

Wilson noted that mandating vaccinations would reduce fragmented decision-making at company and crew level. He highlighted, “The wellbeing of crew is paramount. At present, if I get onboard a ship and offer vaccinations, the decision about whether to allow this might be taken by the ship’s captain or the company’s head office. Crew may put themselves forward for vaccinations, only for them to be denied.”

Proof of vaccination
Another challenge to address would be vaccination certificates. Wilson remarked LSC has arranged for many of these seafarers to receive vaccines at walk-in centres. However, as they are not NHS-registered, they cannot use the official NHS COVID-19 App – and therefore cannot access official confirmation that they have received the vaccine.

He lamented, “Seafarers vaccinated in the United Kingdom have no recognised certification proving they have received the vaccination. This is also an international problem – when British nationals are vaccinated abroad.” Wilson appealed for the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO), International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) and World Health Organisation’s (WHO) intervention to address this tricky vaccination issue.


Crewing Online News Team
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